A close look at the Indonesian market or Fruit marathon
We’re finally back home from our winter trip to the tropical regions, where we had a chance to get first-hand experience of what Bali is about. I apologise for not keeping in touch for so long, so I’m posting a ‘Balinese report’ as compensation.
There’s nothing that won’t grow in Bali. Growing at your fingertips, there are mangos, avocados, maracujas, guavas, bananas, papayas, rambutans, lychee, snake fruit, lemongrass and dozens of other Asian fruits I’m not familiar with. It doesn’t take long to develop a fruit addiction in Bali.
We get up early in the morning and rush to the local traditional market in Ubudu, which begins on the stroke of midnight and continues until 7 am. You certainly don’t bump into many tourists here, if any. My first impression is one of horror. Some chaos and a little mess can be chic, but here everything is thrown into one pile on the ground: sacks and boxes full of fruit and vegetables, poultry, flowers as sacrifice for the Balinese gods, rags… Better not to compare and to forget the omnipresent smell of rubbish rotting in the street, not to think of the terrible hygiene-which does not comply with Central European standards, indeed-, or the rubbish dump and the three-layer broom. I don’t perceive the ‘wild life’ any longer and let the spot surprise and inspire me instead. What I like the most are little cheery details. It’s fun to haggle, especially given the language barrier and when a smiling woman offers you goods at a price ten times as high as the local people pay. We hear ‘Balinese price’ wherever we go, while in fact, the local sellers are just trying to rip you off.
My second impression – fruit, fruit and more fruit! For breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day. This is nothing but addiction.
Green or brown, old or young? Young coconuts were rolling all around. Their sweetish and refreshing liquid (which we often confuse with coconut milk – which is obtained from the flesh of ripe brown coconuts, however) and young, soft coconut flesh provide us with energy every day. The younger the nut is, the more liquid there is in it, as I learnt from a joyful restaurant owner on the outskirts of Ubudu. Coconut is a natural water filter and one of the best remedies for a healthy body.
The brown, hairy coconuts which most of us know are adult coconuts and there is no point in looking for drinkable liquid in a ripe coconut.
And what about the millions of coconut shells? The Balinese use them to grill fish. I tried and the taste was just exquisite.
There are over 10 types of bananas here. All around us are loads of mini-bananas. Tiny, curved, yellow, green and orange ones, grown under the sun and sold only in clusters.
Salak pondok-snake fruit tastes a little bitter at first and reminds me of quince more than anything else. The flesh is rather hard, crusty as you bite into it, yet slightly sweet. Of all the different kinds, I liked the ‘scaly snake’ the best.
Bought and haggled about, the most important kind of mango, called Manalagi, is safely in our bag. It’s delicious, almost as much as the Indian mango Alfonso.
Jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit, which has a lot in common with the durian of strong odour, is certainly worth a try.
Water apple, resembling a bell in shape, is surprisingly tasty. The fruit grows hollow inside and is very refreshing.
Guava is neither a pear, nor a quince. It has a typically sourish taste with a touch of lemon. The whole fruit is edible – the greenish thin skin as well as the pink flesh. What about guava sorbet?
And last but not least, the thing we miss the most at the moment – freshly squeezed fruit juice. Made of pineapple, mango, melon or papaya – whatever springs to mind.
It was an adventurous trip to taste some new gastronomy. We would have loved to try the tastes that we discovered on the other side of the world and that would certainly be worth returning to the equatorial islands for, back home in Angelato, too.
To exotic fruit!